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Indepth Arts News:

"Pipilotto Rist: Solo Video and Installation Works"
2001-08-16 until 2001-11-18
Centraal Museum
Utrecht, , NL

An exhibition of video works and installations by the Swiss artist Pipilotti Rist (b. 1962, Rheintal) opens on 16 August at the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Pipilotti Rist has gained international fame in recent years through her participation in the Venice Biennale (1993 and 1997) and solo exhibitions in Berlin (Museum fUr Gegenwartskunst, 1998), Vienna (Kunsthalle, 1998), Zurich (Kunsthalle, 1999) and Paris (Musee dArt Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1999). Her installation Extremities, Soft, Soft (1999) was shown at the reopening of the Centraal Museum in November 1999. The Centraal Museum asked Rist to design a spatial installation specially for the museum and invited her to visit and get to know the rooms and collections.

From that visit a plan was born for a new spatial installation in the museum chapel, in addition to a presentation of various single projection video works in the project rooms. Pipilotti Rist has appeared in around 150 group exhibitions and 30 solo presentations. In the Netherlands her work was shown at the Wild Walls exhibition in Amsterdams Stedelijk Museum (1995), at the Panorama 2000 open air exhibition in Utrecht (Centraal Museum, 1999) and in solo presentations in Sittard (Stedelijk Museum het Domeijn, 1997) and Middelburg (Vleeshal, 2000). In the 1980s Pipilotti Ristattended the Schule fUr Design in Basel, where she followed audiovisual classes under Rene Pulver, who specifically focused on video as an artistic medium. Pulver provided his pupils with a wealth of information, thanks to the extensive video archive he had built up, from Bruce Nauman to Ulrike Rosenbach and others.

Rists first videos reveal how influential this background was. She experimented with the possibilities of the medium, like a painter trying out various artistic materials. In a video like Im Not The Girl Who Misses Much (1986) Rist painted, as it were, with the video camera by distorting images in various ways, by slowing down, stopping and accelerating the images, by using double takes and including distorted andunfocused images. In this early work Rist already showed an interest in the other element inherent to video: namely sound. In her unique rendition of the Beatles song Not A Girl Who Misses Much, for example. Some of her video works resemble video clips, like You Called Me Jacky (1990), the song being pregnant with meaning, encompassing the images like a blanket. In You Called Me Jacky Rist mimes to a Kevin Coyne song, interspersing the images with shots of a desolate train journey. Rist is fascinated by the role of performer - whether its singer, artist or actor. And as the singer of a female band Les Reines Prochaines its a role shes had direct experience of.

In her work, Pipilotti Rist combines music she herself composes (with Anders Guggisberg) and performs with the flowing, more or less abstract idiom of video imagery. Her pictorial language has developed through her experiments in form with the medium into a unique signature. The camera acts like a sensory eye touching and testing surroundings and objects, like bodies. With a flowing motion the camera moves constantly from near to far, from vague to sharp; like on a gentle slope, harmonising with the melodious line of the music. Pipilotti Rist has created a visual image which is unique and recognisably female; with a sense of fascination she tests and examines the world, almost erotically, like a huge, never-ending body.

Femininity is a conscious part in Rists art. An explicit work is the video installation Ever is Over All (1997), which was exhibited as a single projection at Panorama 2000. As she skips down the road, an attractive woman smashes car windows with a phallic flower stem. A passing police officer moves in, but nods in friendly acquiescence - shes a policewoman. This humorous work illustrates the new phase that feminism has entered in visual art: it is no longer superimposed message, it is entirely incorporated into the composition. Pipilotti Rists significance lies in her ability to make this female perspective seem entirely natural to the viewer.

Pipilotti Rists work is on view in project rooms 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 as well as in the Chapel. The Centraal Museum regularly invites artists, designers and fashion designers to personally furnish the museums several project rooms with their own work. These rooms are located at various points in the museum and each has its own character. Pipilotti Rists plans for the Central Museums Chapel are at present still a mystery. The atmosphere in this part of what was once the medieval St Agnes Convent made a profound impression on her and it seems that the Chapel, instead of becoming a location for the installation, will actually be the subject of the installation.

For the exhibition at the Centraal Museum Pipilotti Rist has arranged for her entire team to be in Utrecht for the first two weeks of August. Her work has been discussed and analysed in numerous publications. She is the focus of Parkett, which appeared in 1996, and Himalaya in 1999 (available in the Centraal Museum bookshop) and in 2001 Phaidon have published a volume about Pipilotti Rist. The exhibition is accompanied by a volume in the Centraal Museum Agnieten series about her work in the museum. More video art is on show at the Centraal Museum from 3 to 7 October at the Impakt Festival.

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